Monday, June 28, 2010

Animosity Encounters

 "Doesn't that hurt your back?" "He's too old for you to carry him that way." "Make him walk!" "You're going to spoil him."

When we moved to the woods from the city two months ago, I was expecting a slower pace of life. Maybe a small town feeling in the little grove we live in. What I was not expecting was the amount of slightly hostile curiosity I've gotten from my new neighbors when they see me wearing my 12 month old around the grove.

It started the day we moved in. I had Gunne Bear on my front in a Mei Tai while I directed movers with our stuff. As the day wore on, I slapped a sun hat on his head and sang to him until he fell asleep against me. When new neighbors came by to introduce themselves, they seemed surprised to see my 10 month old napping this way. "I'm a kangaroo" I told them jokingly. They didn't seem to get it.

Two days later a gas leak drove us out of the house, again at nap time. This time I used the Moby, wrapped him up and walked down to the beach. I met another new neighbor who expressed surprise that I could tolerate having him on me this way. "I'm one of those hippy-crunchy-granola baby wearer types you read about," I tried joking again. No dice.

My neighbors mounted a not so silent campaign. They stop their cars when they see us walking to ask me pointedly if carrying him on my back hurts. They have reacted in horror when I walk straight into the pond with him on my hip in my special ring sling. I've tried being kind and educating. I've tried being blunt, "If this hurt, do you think I'd be doing it?"

My neighbors and I have reached an impasse. I have no idea why the sight of a woman wearing her toddler annoys them so much, but I have no intention of stopping. I plan on wearing him as long as it's comfortable and beneficial to us both, and if that's another two or even three years, then so be it. Of course in two or three years, we hope to have another little one, so my neighbors may well be treated to the sight of a baby wearing mama for the next 6 years.

Has anyone else encountered such strange animosity? Have any suggestions on how to handle it, short of recruiting hundreds of baby wearers to march through the lanes of our grove? I could use some advice!


Anonymous said...

I had no idea there were people who protested babywearers. Who knew?
Believe it or not, I got some of that with breastfeeding. Not tons, but enough that I thought it was weird. Especially after he was about 6 months old. People were forever asking how much longer I was going to let him nurse. Heck, if I didn't care, why on earth they did is a mystery to me!

Funky Mama Bird said...

That's exactly it; why do they care? If it's not hurting me, my son or them, why does it bother them?

Anonymous said...

My grandfather's lady friend is appalled that I let my 7month old feed herself, bf when she wants and the biggest shock is my failure to give her juice in a zippy cup (although two months ago she was snippy that I didn't give bubby formula top-ups). I weighed her and she is in the 75th percentile with a median height. She is the calmest baby that anyone knows. I remind them of all this but they still think I should stop doing it my way. I don't get it. The system is so perfect but they would have me mess with it for no reason at all.

natalie said...

I've gotten lots of funny looks and comments, but nothing I'd consider negative...more just uninformed and unfamiliar.

Whenever I encounter someone who seems a bit unsure, I make a point of saying that my kiddo loves it, that it's great to snuggle them and have my hands free, etc. Hopefully some of that sticks with them... :)

Claire said...

I really don't get why people care. I still carry my 3 and half year old from time to time, and never fail to get a "He must be heavy!" or "Poor, mummy, carrying you" (directed at him!).

I try telling them that it's a lot more comfortable that trying to carry him in my arms, and that he likes it, and it keeps him happy, but I still get the feeling they think I am some kind of weirdo.

Hopefully one day it might be seen as the norm. In the UK it seems to be even more unusual (especially in the area where I live)

Funky Mama Bird said...

They direct comments at him?! I don't think I could stand for that!

natalie said...

Wow, Claire... that must be frustrating! I find it sad that most of those same people wouldn't be likely to say anything to a child that age in a stroller. :/

Love your profile picture! :)